Stop Hair Loss in Tennessee
What to do for your best head of hair and when to see a dermatologist.
Hair growth, loss, and other changes are frequent patient problems treated by dermatologists. Though there are dozens of over-the-counter hair repair and growth products, a dermatologist should first diagnose all hair loss and other hair concerns.
Hair growth starts at the follicle level in the dermis of the skin. The dermis is the middle layer of the skin of the three layers of your skin. This layer is home to the blood vessels, oil and sweat glands, and the skin’s immune system. Think of the follicle as something like a plant root and the dermis as nutrient-rich soil. Hair grows up from the follicle out through the dermis and epidermis.
Hair is composed of three layers of cuticle cells. These layers contain keratin and other lipid barriers to give hair strength and texture. Hair is porous, and water causes the hair to swell, making hair heavier and longer when wet.
What Causes Hair Damage
Like the skin, the hair weathers exposure from numerous chemicals, cold and heat in Tennessee, friction, and manipulation. Each of these processes potentially wears down the hair’s cuticle, leaving breaks, split ends, dry and unmanageable hair. The longer the hair grows, the more susceptible the hair is to this “weathering.” Examples of hair weathering include bleaching, permanent solutions, styling products and sprays, heat drying, combing, hair accessories, and hair-pulling associated with ponytails, braids, extensions.
Healthy hair requires a simultaneous reduction of weathering processes and optimal intake of nutrients to support hair growth. These nutrients include Omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, and B vitamins.
Despite good hair care and a healthy diet, many people still experience hair loss and hair thinning for various reasons.
Medical Conditions Can Lead to Hair Loss
As noted before, all hair loss should be evaluated by a dermatologist or dermatology nurse practitioner. The skin, hair, and nails can signal the presence of an internal medical condition outwardly. A possible internal medical condition applies to hair loss, too. There are numerous scalp conditions and systemic medical conditions that contribute to hair loss. In these cases, the underlying condition needs to be treated, as there is no hair product (shampoo, conditioner, oil, etc.) that will correct the underlying problem causing the loss.
Most hair loss is treatable or at least manageable. However, this conditioon is a personal dermatology concern, and many patients hesitate to consult with a dermatologist in Tennessee. Please, don’t hesitate or feel embarrassed to mention your hair loss to your dermatology provider. The dermatologist is trained and equipped with treatments for your hair needs!
Tips for Healthy Hair
Add protection back to the hair and minimize weathering.
- Take a multivitamin with B vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. These vitamins are easily found over the counter.
- Wash hair less, if able, to avoid stripping moisture from the hair.
- Use a leave-in conditioner spray after washing. If you have an oily scalp, try using it on the bottom half of the hair. Leave-in conditioner detangles the strands of hair, reducing breakage from combing wet hair. Leave-in conditioner also seals and protects the hair from styling tools and products.
- Air dry hair when possible.
- Minimize alcohol-containing styling products that can dry out hair even more. For example, try dry shampoo powder (Aveda, Odele at Target) instead of spray and try alcohol-free styling products like Kenra.
- Minimize over-processing hair with color, permanent solutions, extensions, heat. It is fashionable to change hair color routinely in TN, but too much can break down the hair and leave you with stripped, broken, and unmanageable hair.
Types of Hair Loss and Treatment Options
Non-inflammatory Hair Loss Conditions
Hair loss is associated with normal and predictable hormone shifts as we age. Hormonal hair loss can be managed with oral medications, usually with few to no side effects and minimal cost. Medications like Spironolactone for women and Propecia for men block a small amount of hormone driving hair loss. These pills do not stimulate growth; rather, they reduce loss.
The thyroid hormones play an essential role in many bodily functions. When the thyroid gland is not working correctly, too much or too little hormone is produced, and the person may experience multiple symptoms, including hair loss. A healthcare provider can perform bloodwork to check thyroid hormone levels and determine if your hair loss is associated with a thyroid condition.
Localized or Systemic Inflammatory Conditions
Inflammatory conditions irritate the scalp and/or loss at the follicle level. This irritation can present as scaling patches (psoriasis, discoid lupus), shiny bald spots throughout the scalp, or rapid receding of the frontal scalp hairline (alopecia areata or lichen planopilaris). The underlying inflammatory condition must be treated for the hair to stop falling out and for new hair to grow. A dermatologist can diagnose this hair loss and begin the correct course of treatment.
Treatment for inflammatory hair loss may involve local application of steroid solutions or foams or direct injection of steroids into the scalp skin. Both are very effective and have few side effects. Systemic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like Lupus or Dermatomyositis can contribute to hair loss and should be diagnosed and treated by a Dermatologist or Rheumatologist in Tennessee.
Fungal or bacterial infections of the scalp can cause the hair to break close to the scalp. Infectious processes on the scalp tend to feel wet or weepy, painful, and spongy skin texture. Again, these symptoms should be assessed by a dermatologist to ensure correct treatment, allowing the hair to regrow.
Some medications are associated with hair loss, most commonly, chemotherapy. Hair growth resumes when the medication is discontinued, though hair color texture and thickness may be different. Other medicines that may potentially cause hair loss include anticoagulant Coumadin, Rheumatic medication Methotrexate, and rarely, cholesterol and blood pressure medications.
Sometimes we shed hair after a major physical or psychological event. This hair loss is called Telogen Effluvium. For example, it is not uncommon to lose hair after childbirth or major surgery. The death of close family members and the physical and emotional toll on the body can also lead to a hair loss event. Fever associated with illness is another cause of hair loss. For example, approximately 25% of people infected with COVID-19 will notice some hair loss. These Telogen Effluvium events can last 6-8 wks or up to 6 months. Once the hair shedding event is over, the hair regrows on its own. By examining the scalp and taking a detailed history, a dermatologist can diagnose Telogen Effluvium fairly easily and recommend supportive care.
Treatments for Hair Growth
There are two well-supported options for hair regrowth. Remember, however, it is critically important to stop the loss first. Once the hair loss diagnosis is made and treatment started, you can begin to discuss if you are a candidate for hair growth treatments.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter active ingredient found in solutions, foams, and oils applied directly to the scalp 1-2 times per day to stimulate hair growth. These are affordable and safe options but can be time-consuming to apply regularly. Hair grows slowly, so patients using minoxidil should commit at least 6 months to the treatment.
Platelet Rich Plasma injections are a new and exciting means for regrowing hair backed by numerous scientific studies. This procedure is performed in-office by experienced clinicians. It uses the patient’s own platelets (via a simple blood draw) and injects them directly into the scalp in areas of loss. Though it may sound a little sci-fi, it’s quite simple and very effective, usually taking less than an hour per session. Monthly sessions are needed at the beginning and occasional treatments after that. Ask your dermatologist for more information or a referral to a reputable provider in Tennessee.
Schedule an Appointment with a Dermatologist in Tennessee
Most hair loss conditions are easily diagnosed and treated. But don’t delay! Long periods of hair loss can lead to follicular dropout or scarring of the scalp. In these cases, hair regrowth is unlikely. See a dermatologist, get the right diagnosis and treatment, and you will be on your way to healthy hair growth again!